Land of the Rising Yen
In Thai culture, society, call it what you want, jai rorn (hot tempered) and losing face are unwanted partners that raise their ugly heads only in the most extreme situations or for those that the Thai way of life and effectively Buddhism has been unable to calm their inner souls. The western practice of punch first, question later and apologise if needs fit, is a trait that probably rates as top of the undesirable ways of the farang in the minds of the Thai people.
In my early Land of Smile years I was jai rorn on many an occasion, the heat and humidity being my main annoyance and the inability of the Thai’s to understand my simple English tongue being another major cause. Over the years the Thai way of life has calmed my temper and I now consider myself more jai yen (cool tempered) than jai rorn.
Yesterday proved to be an exception. We’d left our village home and arrived in Udon Thani for the last three days of our holiday, I’d slept for the most part of the one hour journey, maybe I’d woken in a bad mood, that’s a very rare occurrence for me. While Wonderful Wi parked the car I followed the Napalais hotel porter and our luggage to the hotel reception desk.
There were three receptionists waiting, two ladies and one man, their look was one of boredom and inactivity in an industry that has been hard hit by the lack of foreigners now visiting Thailand. I gave it my plain English tongue…” I would like to book a room for three nights please,”…the response was one of blank expressions, my heckles rose slightly, why I don’t know.
I was smoking 50 fags a day and my language tone may have been affected by this, a little heavy on the nasal and with my slight cockney twang I thought it better to detox my spiel a touch…..Nice and slow..” I would like to book a room for three nights please,”…..If a cloud of confusion had formed over them from my opening shot then it was now raining with a heavy downpour. Thunder and lightning with heavy storms was the weather now residing inside my head.
Calm down and try again, “Can any you speak English,”…pidgin tongue is sometimes best….” I speak English,” came the reply from one of the ladies. I slowly repeated my request and with an angelic charm she once more responded.
” When you arrive hotel ? “…I looked over to my suitcase and two holdalls and thought Thailand don’t do this to me, when do you think I bloody arrived. Chai yen, chai yen, I said nothing but on the outside I knew my whole demeanor spoke a very loud and western chai rorn.
Udon Thani…Friday afternoon….The schoolchildren pour out of the schools and board the waiting minibuses and for the poorer and those with more frugal parents, songtheaws. Another week of lessons finished and for the lucky few their dreams of one day nursing sick people or animals and in some cases both have moved a little nearer.
For the rest at best a career in 7-11 or Tesco Lotus waits. In the Western world a misspent youth erodes the career path of many youngsters and Thailand the misspent baht on non native English speaking teachers lays down a path of uphill ascent. ” Hello sexy man “ is for some the business language of the future, not Mandarin.
The school exodus joins the growing traffic congestion as the city workers head home and many others start their weekend at the Chareonsri Shopping Complex bargian hunting, dining and for the next generation of Pattaya ” Dancing Queens “ a chance of posing to closing in the boutiques and eateries.
Pizza’s selling at a round 200 baht show the wealth of difference between Udon’s major city and it’s countless villages. Red may be the political colour of Udon Thani Province but a common villager would find themselves knee deep in kwai dung and even deeper in the red shopping at some of the prices on display. Perhaps Thailand’s renown Bangkok and the rest two tier system, has now added a cheap mix base to the Land of Smiles cake.
For once shopaholic Wilai left the Chareonsri Complex with exactly what she walked in with, handbag, radiant smile and a red faced farang. I left 5500 baht light of pocket with my close vision restored after the purchace of a pair of sexy specs reading glasses and believe me the next generation of ” Dancing Queens ” looked even sweeter on my way out. Mai phen rai krap.
Wonderful Wi is the one for me, jai rorn and jai yen she has stood by me through it all. For me 20/20 vision is a thing of the past but Thailand 2552 has furthered my education of life. Looking at roses through thick lensed glasses will in the future be better for me than the Western world’s rose tinted vision of life. Good luck and God bless from Beyond The Mango Juice and thank you Thailand but I’ve gotta spread my wings and fly.